Friday 29 November 2013

A word about Elis.

It is me that writes these blogs (Rick, in case you missed it), it is me that gives the talks, it is me that is writing the book and it is usually me that appears in the photos as it is Elis that normally takes them.

As a result, too often, it is assumed that Wader Quest = Rick Simpson. Well it is, 50% of it anyway, the other 50% which is all-too-frequently overlooked, is Elis.
Elis Simpson. Wader Quest's indefatigable photographer.
I get congratulated on the blog and on my talks, it is good to get positive feedback, but can you imagine what either would be like without Elis' photographs? Dull as ditchwater, that's what. We are proud of the fact that virtually all of the material we use is self generated, the pictures you see are of the birds we saw, keeping it real and personal. Those images may sometimes not be the best available of any given species, but they reflect the reality of what we have been through in order to achieve them.

Sheltering from the wind on a Florida beach to photograph a plover flock.
The result? Our first Wilson's Plover for the quest.
Elis is relatively new to wildlife photography and would be the first to admit that she has much to learn, but in the short time she has been practising this art she has dedicated herself to always improving the quality of her shots
Checking out the prospects.

The very nature of what we do, looking for birds in open spaces for the most part, means that often the birds cannot be approached and the resulting shots are sometimes disappointing through no fault of Elis'.
Wading icy braided rivers in New Zealand.

Worth getting cold feet for; Wrybill, New Zealand.

This means that Elis becomes all the more determined to get 'that shot' and will submit herself to rather more discomfort than I'd care to in order to do so.
Crawling around mossy lakesides.
Useful comparison shot of White-rumped (R) and Baird's Sandpiper, Tierra del Fuego, Chile.
She is not above crawling many metres on a beach that is being whipped into a sand-storm by gusting winds,
Crawling on Australia beaches to photograph Hooded Plover.
Hooded Plover (and photographer) being sandblasted.
The final image of Hooded Plover domestic bliss that was eventually acheived.

or lay prone on wet and freezing, stoney lake edges.
A cold and gusty lake edge in Tierra del Fuego, Chile photographing Magellanic Plovers.
Magellanic Plover portrait.

She will often leave me panting at the foot of a hill to clamber up in order to photograph our target, she has continued long after my enthusiasm has waned in wind, rain, snow and even all three!
Confronting a maelstrom to get the shot we need in Brazil. Me? I'm safely in the nice warm car!

For her 'good enough' simply is not good enough, she will get the very best image she can in the circumstances, she'll do whatever it takes, falling short of prejudicing the welfare of the birds; there she draws the line.
Patience paid off to photograph Rufous-chested Dotterels bathing near Punta Arenas, Chile.
Rufous-chested Dotterel bathing.

That is not to mention the hours spent collating, selecting and cropping the images so that when they are presented for everyone to see, they are at their very best and will hopefully draw attention to what we are doing.
Got to get the angle right.

When I give the talks I always make sure everyone is aware that it is Elis that takes the photos, on the blog I insist she include her name lest people forget, yet forget they do. If I had a pound for every time someone wrote, 'Nice photo Rick" or something similar...
Remaining concealed so as not to spook the flock. Which one is the dowitcher again?
Record shot of our only Asian Dowitcher.

Elis may not be at the forefront of everything we do, mostly because of her own mistaken lack of confidence in her English language abilities, but credit where credit is due, Elis is very much the silent partner (it doesn't do to be making a lot of noise if you're a bird photographer I suppose!), but the work she does is essential to the project which, I'm sure you'll agree, without her marvellous images, would be far less interesting and therefore effective.
Job done!

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